The rodents read the entrails

Groundhog Day comes and goes — and there's angst in all that augury

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Carolyn Grant

Groundhog Day dawned sunny and frosty here in Kimberley, and if a groundhog anywhere in the East Kootenay was foolish enough to come out of its burrow/den/hole-in-the-ground/condo, he or she would have immediately retreated.

In Wiarton, Ontario, home of the famed Wiarton Willie, it was cloudy, which is supposed to mean spring will be early. In Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, home of Shubenacadie Sam, billed as the first groundhog in Canada to venture out of his lair, Sam saw snow. Early spring in Nova Scotia as well, apparently.

In Manitoba, Brandon Bob woke to temperatures in the -20 range and sunny skies. Which is as it should be. No one in their right mind would expect spring in March in Manitoba. It was sunny in Balzac, Alberta, home of Balzac Billy. Spring is not on the way! But maybe a chinook.

I don’t know if this is the best system to decide when spring will arrive, but it’s the one we’ve got.

Apparently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agrees. Who needed electoral reform anyway?

In “mandate letter” to his new Minister of Democratic Institutions (who knew we had one of those?) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote, “A clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged. Furthermore, without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest.”

Now I believe we discussed several weeks ago that the online poll that purported to take the pulse of Canadians on electoral reform was, arguably, a poll designed to lead you in the direction that electoral reform was very bad indeed. And it may be true that the majority of Canadians are not all that excited about the subject one way or the other.

So despite electoral reform being a rather key promise in Mr. Trudeau’s election campaign, he is now abandoning it.

Will it cost him? In the long run, I’m betting not. Sure, his political opponents will use it — they’d be silly not to. We will hear about broken promises and how Trudeau’s failure to keep his word says a lot about his character. Although, show me a politician who has never broken an election promise and I’d be happy to erect a snow sculpture to his or her memory. Really. I’d do it. Right in the Platzl I’m thinking. The groundhog indicates I have plenty of time.

The NDP, never having found the correct formula to gain power in Canada, will pound Trudeau for the broken promise, mainly because NDPers really do believe that proportional representation is a better system. And also because it’s an opportunity to get at a Prime Minister who has proven remarkably adept at not having any criticism really stick yet.

The Conservatives do know how to win with the current first past the post system, but they won’t waste an opportunity to remind voters of the broken promise. Again, why wouldn’t they?

The thing is, what is the better system? What would work best? In the 2015, election the Liberals won 184 seats yet only 39.5 per cent of the popular vote. But, at 39.5 per cent, it was still much higher than the popular vote of the Conservatives, who won 31.9 per cent. And still about 28 percent of the country voted for other parties. And still again, those percentages have to considered against the fact that over 30 per cent of those eligible didn’t vote at all.

Is there a system that can make sense of all that?

Proportional representation? It’s soooooo complicated, and I don’t know that it would make anyone any happier with election results. Thing is, when the party or person you voted for wins, you’re happy. When they don’t, you might want to find a reason why they didn’t.

We as Canadians are never going to agree on what system might best work.

We can’t even get our groundhogs on the same page.

Carolyn Grant is Editor

of the Kimberley Bulletin